Linebackers in the Draft are separated by which position they will fit best in. Most prospects under 240 pounds are considered to be weak-side prospects.
When they reach 240 pounds or more (and seem to have room to add more bulk,) they get thrown into the inside or middle linebacker role. The strong-side is less specific, but seems to be reserved for athletic players over 255 pounds.
I want to focus on the inside and middle positions. This is an area where 240 pounds is considered the minimum and 250 pounds or more is what is considered ideal.
This year, Rey Maualuga is highly regarded not just because of his ability, but because he has prototypical size and could even bulk up more.
James Laurinaitis has seen his stock drop, and I have read on multiple occasions, that he needs to bulk up. Last I saw, Laurinaitis was 244 pounds.
Jason Phillips is another player that is looking at being picked up in day two. He is under that magical 240 pound mark but isn't as speedy as many top weak side prospects.
So I decided to look at the current starting inside and middle linebackers, to see how accurate these mythical weight numbers are when it pertains to playing on Sundays.
To better understand this, I have created a list of starting middle and inside linebackers in the NFL today.
The results were surprising.
- New Orleans MLB Jonathan Vilma 230 lbs.
- Tennessee MLB Stephen Tulloch 235 lbs.
- Indianapolis MLB Gary Brackett 235 lbs.
- Seattle SLB Leroy Hill 238 lbs.
- San Francisco MLB Patrick Willis 240 lbs.
- Seattle MLB Lofa Tatupu 242 lbs.
- Oakland MLB Kirk Morrison 240 lbs.
- St. Louis MLB Will Witherspoon 240 lbs.
- San Diego ILB Stephen Cooper 235 lbs.
- Cleveland MLB D'Qwell Jackson 240 lbs.
- Cincinnati MLB Dhani Jones 240 lbs.
- Green Bay ILB Nick Barnett 236 lbs.
- Kansas City MLB Derrick Johnson 242 lbs.
- Tampa bay MLB Barrett Ruud 241 lbs.
- Buffalo MLB Paul Posluzny 238 lbs.
A few weak side linebackers come in even lighter.
- Indianapolis WLB Cato June 227 lbs.
- Detroit WLB Ernie Sims 225 lbs.
- Tennessee WLB Xavier Adibi 232 lbs.
A very significant number of linebackers were well under the 250 pound mark that is considered ideal. Many are even under 240.
So why is it that we are spoon fed that a middle linebacker needs to be over 240 and should bulk up to 250 or more to be successful in the NFL?
Maybe we should ask Jonathan Vilma, one of the top free agents this year, if being over 240 pounds is important. I mean, at 230 there is no way he would get picked on day one.
Stop believing everything the media and "draft experts" throw at you, and look at things for yourself. You may be surprised at what you find.